Acuña hits 16th HR, ties for MLB lead as Braves beat Nats


ATLANTA — Ronald Acuña Jr. hit his 16th home run to tie for the big league homer lead and the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 5-3 on Monday.

Acuña went deep to match Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr., San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr. and Texas’ Adolis Garcia for most in the majors.

The Braves have won six of seven games against the Nationals this season and have outscored them 33-21. Washington has lost five in a row overall.

Closer Will Smith retired the side in order in the ninth to earn his ninth save in nine chances. The right-hander got pinch-hitter Victor Robles to fly out, pinch-hitter Ryan Zimmerman to strike out and Trea Turner to fly out.

Guillermo Heredia’s run-scoring single off reliever Kyle Finnegan in the sixth pushed the lead to 5-3 . Finnegan struck out Acuña with the bases loaded to end the inning.

Atlanta starter Charlie Morton (4-2) gave up three runs, six hits and three walks with six strikeouts in five innings. Luke Jackson struck out Turner, who whiffed four times, to strand a runner at third in the sixth.

Joe Ross (2-5) allowed four runs, three hits and three walks with seven strikeouts, retiring the last 11 batters he faced, but he trailed 3-0 in the first on Dansby Swanson’s sacrifice fly and William Contreras’ two-run single.

Acuña, who began the day hitting .193 in his last 16 games, homered in the second to make it 4-0.

Josh Bell hit his seventh homer, a two-run shot, to trim the lead to 4-2, and Ross’ RBI single made it 4-3 in the fourth. Morton struck out Turner to strand two runners to end the inning.

Atlanta has won five of seven to improve to 25-26. Washington dropped to 21-29.


Nationals: Robles was reinstated from the injured list after being sidelined with a right ankle sprain. Manager Dave Martinez said he will likely return to the lineup Tuesday. … Martinez added that Erick Fedde (illness) needs a rehab start before returning and is an unlikely candidate to start Wednesday.

Braves: RHP Shane Greene has back discomfort as he warms up for the season at Triple-A Gwinnett. He was scheduled to pitch Sunday but was pushed back until Tuesday when the Stripers open a homestand.


The Braves canceled a promotion Thursday in which fans would’ve been given a Marcell Ozuna arm sleeve giveaway. The star outfielder was granted a $20,000 bond Monday and released from an Atlanta jail after getting arrested two days earlier on charges of aggravated assault by strangulation and battery against his wife.

“I haven’t dealt with some of the things that we’re dealing with right now,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said.


Abraham Almonte started in Ozuna’s spot in left field and went 0 for 2. Atlanta earlier in the day selected the contract of Almonte, now with his sixth major league club, and optioned RHP Jay Flaa to Triple-A Gwinnett. To make room on the 40-man roster, Atlanta transferred RHP Huascar Ynoa (broken hand) to the 60-day injured list.


Washington RHP Stephen Strasburg (1-2, 4.43 ERA) faces Braves LHP Max Fried (2-2, 4.63). Strasburg is 14-12 with a 3.94 ERA in 35 career starts against Atlanta. Fried is 2-2 with a 5.70 ERA in seven starts and one relief appearance against Washington.

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